Apart from a few days with family, this was the first time one of our kids would spend the night away from home for longer than a day. Our son was certain that he was ready, and I thought I was, too—at least until we began the drive through the gate to drop him off at camp. I was the one who had encouraged him to go. I knew he would have a good time—even fall in love with the place—because I did when I was a kid. But there is something about actually following through on something that changes one’s thinking. As we drove through the gate, I suddenly felt that this might be something that I was not prepared for. “How did we get here?” I wondered, “When did our son get old enough to do this?” My nerves were getting to me, and all I could do was pray, “God, please show me a sign that all will be well. I just need a sign!” As we walked toward his cabin and turned the corner to the front door, I saw that he was going to stay, not just in cabin #20, but in the St. Francis of Assisi cabin.
That’s it! That’s the sign! Hanging on a crooked sign was the name of our family’s patron saint!
There was nothing to worry about. Of all the saintly cabin names that he could have been assigned to, our boy would be housed in the St. Francis Cabin, named for his godfather’s, grandmother’s, aunt’s, my, and his own patron saint. In a way, St. Francis is the patron saint of our whole family, someone who we regularly turn to for guidance in living ordinary lives devoted to Christ and not to worldly things. At the moment of seeing his name hung outside the cabin door, I knew God had answered my prayer, letting me know that he and Saint Francis would keep our son safe. This comforting sign showed me that our son would feel at home here, that he would enter a week filled with holy things and holy people, and that he would come home restored.
The week went by quickly. We all survived being apart from one another, and the sweetest reward came when picking up our son from camp and hearing about all of the good things he encountered. But also sweet was that the encouragement from that small sign from God lingered in my heart the whole week, reminding me to ask St. Francis to intercede for our family as we charted new territory as a stay-away camp family. Yes, God sent me a sign that day that he and Saint Francis would watch over our kid, but he also gifted me a reminder that prayers are answered, even in the smallest of ways, even through crooked signs hanging over rustic cabin doorways. I just need to slow down, pray, and look around—he is there waiting to be seen, eager to tell me all will be well.